Golden State Warriors' big man set for pivotal role in crucial positional matchup

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Regardless of whether he takes to the floor himself or not, Golden State Warriors' veteran Kevon Looney is set to play a key role for the franchise in their hopes of staving off elimination against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

Looney's form has largely been underwhelming this season, leading to his demotion from starting center to fringe rotation piece. However, the 28-year-old's performance against Kings' center Domantas Sabonis in last year's playoffs isn't easily forgotten, and has subsequently proven a fascinating subplot as the teams prepare for the latest iteration of their recent rivalry.

The Golden State Warriors battle with Domantas Sabonis could prove a defining factor in the result of Tuesday's elimination game

Looney averaged over 30 minutes during the seven-game series, outplaying Sabonis in one of the more surprising and important elements to the Warriors' 4-3 victory. After Sabonis had led the entire league in rebounding throughout the regular season, Looney dominated the glass throughout the series in recording 29 more boards than the three-time All-Star.

Despite playing very limited minutes over recent months, Looney could be called upon by head coach Steve Kerr should he believe the three-time champion can again negate Sabonis' impact.

Looney's ever-ready nature was on display last week in Portland when he played over 20 minutes for the first time since January 12. The nine-year veteran was arguably the difference during the fourth-quarter, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds, two steals, four blocks and as a game-high +19 in 21 minutes.

Even if Looney doesn't get playing opportunity on Tuesday, he'll nonetheless play a valuable role as a resource for Trayce Jackson-Davis. With little in the way of experience against Sabonis, the rookie big man says he's relying upon the guidance of Looney and veteran forward Draymond Green as he prepares for his first postseason game.

"Just watching clips, listening to Dray and Loon on how to guard him (Sabonis) is the biggest thing we've done. "

Trayce Jackson-Davis

Sabonis again led the league in total rebounds and rebounds per game this season, while also adding 19.4 points and a career-high 8.2 assists per game. The Lithuanian's 26 triple-doubles also led the league, just ahead of two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.